Excursion to Punta!

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Playing Basketball in Punta

Hello everyone! Well, during our last preparation-day we went on an excursion to a place called Punta! It’s a branch about 25 minutes away from my town of Tanza. We got to watch the movie Monsters University and play basketball, football, and ultimate frisbee!! It was pretty awesome because my friends Elder Christensen and Elder Golden were there as well as Elder Anderson. Elder Anderson is from the Puyallup area and his mom works at Beehive Books & More, the LDS bookstore in Edgewood where we bought our missionary supplies. He is really nice and I like hanging out with him at meetings and activities. We had some good ol’ American soda pop and some very good cheese roll things! I have included some photos that I took this week but there are not too many because I’m trying not to look like a tourist!

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Elder Anderson playing football on P-Day in Punta!

My companion and I are working hard. We taught about 35-40 lessons this week and we have a baptism on Sunday! We are always busy with appointments and so we are always walking from place to place, which gives us good opportunities to “OYM” (Open your mouth) and do some street contacting! There was a fun experience yesterday on the boardwalk area of a town called Julugan! We were walking along with some of the local members and this man called out “Hey Joe!” – which is what they call the Americans. It was him and about 20 other guys who were just hanging out on the beach, so we approached them and ended up teaching them part of the first lesson – right there on the beach!

Julugan reminds me of Venice Beach, CA because it is a densely populated area that has a boardwalk type area where people like to hang out. There are also a lot of fishing boats and little home shops right on the beach. We have four investigators there, so we spend quite a bit of time traveling back and forth to that town. The weather is also warm like California but it has been cloudy, yet really hot and muggy. But when the sun breaks out and hits you, it feels like you’re instantly being burnt! There’s a small island off the coast called Bataan which we can see if the air quality is good enough!

We eat a lot of Chicken Adobo which is seasoned chicken and rice, rice, rice, and more rice. I like making Top Ramen and then putting a lot of rice in it to soak up the juice. Also, there’s this place called Angel’s Burger – which is the typical of the fast food in the Philippines! They give you two cheeseburgers for about 15 cents which is pretty awesome!

I have been missing home a bit, and especially Tyler! He’s so close, but I can’t see him. Anyway, it sounds like he is having a good time though. My advice to my family and friends at home is to rely on prayer, read the scriptures, and be thankful for what you have. Count your blessings! It’s amazing how blessed we are.

Be thankful for washing machines too! We wash our clothes in a bucket by hand. First you mash the clothing item around in the soapy water for a few minutes, then you ring it out good, and then rinse, ring, rinse, then wring it out, then hang it to dry! All of that takes more than an hour and the soap irritates my hands and forearms a little. As a result of this labor-intensive routine, I’ve started wearing my pants and shirts for two days before washing them!

I guess that is all for now! I am glad to hear that my T-Birds are doing well! I sure appreciate all of the emails and letters from people back home.  Take care and I’ll write more next week.

Love,

Elder Hunter Burbidge

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I AM NOT THE ONLY AMERICAN IN TANZA!

Hello everyone from the town of Tanza! Last night on our way home just before we entered our subdivision we saw a Caucasian guy walking on the other side of the street! I did an immediate double take and caught myself staring at him. He did the same thing to me and then he waved excitedly to us.  He then crossed the street to come talk to us, which is a little flip-flopped from how it usually goes down (because us missionaries are always the ones approaching people)!  It turns out he is from Florida and moved here after he retired. He lives in the subdivision right across the street from ours and said to come by if we wanted to talk, which is awesome!  He has even traveled through Olympia and Tumwater before!  Holy cow, what a small world!

We had a baptism on Saturday, which is the first one I have had the opportunity to be a part of.  It was a great experience to help someone come closer to Christ in an event that will forever change his life.  He’s a 12 year old young man who lives about 2-3 kilometers away from where we live, and he likes having us over!  His grandma is a member of the church and is a really good example to him.  We will now start reteaching the lessons to him and help clarify any questions that he has!  It was a great experience for everyone involved.

Hunter & Young man ready for his baptism.

Hunter & Young man ready for his baptism.

This week we have been focusing on getting new investigators. The best way to do that here is to OYM (Open Your Mouth) or by doing street contacting.  It’s difficult to speak to the local people in Tagalog but I’m trying to get the grammar and language down so that I can talk to people.  My companion is a good example to me. Yesterday we had a contact with a man and it turned out to be a great experience for us and him. He decided that he wants to be baptized and learn more about the church!  We’ll teach him again soon!Fortunately the earthquake in Bohol didn’t reach Tanza!  I heard it was pretty crazy though.  I hope all the missionaries there are okay!  They are very well protected.  (Editor’s note:  Hunter is referring to a 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck the island of Bohol on Monday morning, October 14, 2013 at about 8:30 am local time.  The epicenter was situated about 300 miles Southeast of Hunter’s mission so it wasn’t felt where he is at.  To date the death toll from the quake has exceeded 90 people and property damage was pretty significant.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Filipino families and missionaries who are dealing with this tragedy).

I haven’t had anything too weird to eat yet!  But there are some realllllly good cooks in the Tanza branch (local unit of the church) and they said they’re going to help me become adjusted to the food. Slowly but surely they’ll give me new things to try so I am looking forward to that!

Elder Burbidge and the Branch Mission Leader

Elder Burbidge and the Tanza Branch Mission Leader

I miss everyone back home so much, but this work is SO important!  The results of this work are ETERNAL.  Families are so important in this life and this plan.  Think about how many blessings and how much happiness you’ve gained from and felt from your family.  We can have that forever if we are obedient and give our all to the Lord!  I love this work, it’s becoming to be more enjoyable for me now that I’m adjusting.

I hope everything is going well at home! Know that I love you and pray for you always!

Elder Hunter Burbidge

Enduring it Well…

Hello everyone!  I am going on my third week in Tanza and I have learned a lot about myself in this short amount of time.  Overall I am loving my mission and the experiences I am having in the Philippines.

Mission life, however, has its ups and downs!  This past week I have learned a lot about how we can endure something we don’t necessarily like, with a positive outcome at the end. We need to progress while we endure, having a “I will be stronger after this” attitude, instead of a “Bite the bullet” attitude. The “Bite the bullet” attitude definitely works, but we are basically the same person at the end with some scars and bad memories. If we look at a situation that we don’t think we can handle and only look at the negative outcomes, that is exactly what we’ll receive. If we think, “What could I possibly gain from this?” We will find something. It may not be what you’re thinking either. It could be something completely different. Pray for help. When we are lacking in hope, STRENGTHEN YOUR FAITH. How do we strengthen our faith? Read, ponder, and pray the word of God (Scriptures, Conference talks, Preach My Gospel).

Things are going well in Tanza. We have a few baptisms coming up in the next few weeks and we are trying our best to find investigators!  I experienced my first typhoon! It was only a level 1 but there was so much rain…. haha!

Truck blocking roadway!  Had to walk around it and hop on another bus.

Truck blocking roadway! Had to walk around it and hop on another bus.

On the way to conference we hit a roadblock. A large trailer truck had gotten stuck in the mud and was placed across the road. So we had to get off the bus, and get on another one. To relate this to patience, we had to get off our bus (current thought process) wait for a little bit (allow ourselves to calm down), and then get on another kind of bus/jeepney (take a different thought process/change attitude). We got to conference on time and everything worked out! I hope you all are doing well! This Church is true, The Book is blue, and Moroni is always on the ball! I know that Christ helps us in our times of need. I love Him, I love my Father in Heaven, and I love the Holy Ghost.

Love,

Elder Hunter Burbidge

Report #2 from Tanza

A big toad in the laundry area of Hunter's location.

A big toad in the laundry area!

Hello everyone from my new home town of Tanza, Cavite, Philippines!  It took a couple of weeks but I am getting settled into my new living situation and finding good success on my mission.  Following are some answers to questions that my mom asked me about:

We eat mostly Rice Rice and MORE RICE.  It gets old quick, but its cheap and you can put stuff like fish or chicken on it. But I just went grocery shopping, so I got some pasta with “Italian Style Spaghetti Sauce” and some cereal and milk.  We eat at members houses about 3-4 times a week and they are very generous!  I’m losing weight – I’m not sure how much – but the end of my belt is getting longer which means I can sinch it up more.  Who knows, pretty soon I might have to cut it down a little bit!

The weather is warm and humid.  Sometimes I wake up at night and don’t know if I’m cold or warm because I sweat so much.   In the words of my good friend Elder Matina, “It’s hotter than sin” So yes, really hot, but it cools off with a little breeze at night! To about 75 degrees F.

I am learning a lot from my companion.  He is from the Southern part of the Philippines and has had to make a lot of sacrifices in his life to serve a mission.  When he first went through the temple, he had to travel 24 hours on a sheep in order to get there. Haha crazy!  He eats like a madman, he throws it down.. and can’t sing worth anything!

A typical day in my life involves waking up at 6:30 a.m. and working out for 30 minutes. I do push ups and sit ups with some calf raises thrown in every once in a while to make dad proud.  Then eat/shower/iron/dress, followed by personal study at 8:00, companion study at 9:00, 12-week training at 10:00, and language study at 11:00.  We eat at noon, leave at 12:30-1 and proselyte until 8:30 – 9:00 p.m.

The living conditions are pretty poor in this area.  It feels like I’m in a Jason Bourne movie when he’s in a third world country.  The district that I have been assigned to is geographically spread out over a long highway, so that’s why transportation is hard. So we have to plan things out pretty well, and it’s hard when appointments fall through because then we have to go somewhere completely different, but we’re figuring it out!

We have been teaching about five progressing investigators right now. One of which is on track to be baptized on Oct. 19th. He’s 12 years old and is ready for the Gospel! Two other progressing investigators are 9 and 10 year old boys named Christopher and Andre from a part-member family.  They will be baptized on Nov. 9th!  A perfect birthday present right!?  We teach a lot of less active members and families, so it’s neat to see them progress.

A recent experience I had was when we went to church my first Sunday it felt different. I didn’t know how I would feel about the sacrament, but when we had the sacrament I felt the same way I always have during the sacrament:  Peaceful and thankful. It was such a great experience to me that the Gospel of Jesus Christ can help us ANYWHERE. It is available all over the world. And although cultures and lifestyles may be different, the gospel of Jesus Christ is not. It is perfect. It is pure. And it can help us through the toughest trials.

Love to all,Elder Hunter Burbidge